The Way I See It

Will the ethanol industry be good or great?
By Mike Bryan | October 01, 2002
Several of us at BBI International have now read Good To Great, a book written by Jim Collins, bestselling auther of Built to Last.
The book ventures into the obvious - and sometimes subtle - differences between a good company and a great one. Collins says a great company is one that has had basically the same challenges and opportunities as their direct competitor, but somehow has managed to excel to greatness, while their competitor remained just good or, what is worse, stagnant.

While a number of key, and often consistent, ideals separate good companies from great companies, three principles stand out: (1.) Doing what you do better than anyone else in the world, (2.) being involved in something that you are deeply passionate about, and (3.) focusing on what drives your economic engine.

Since the last 20 years of my life have revolved around ethanol I was drawn to the parallels between what great companies have achieved and what the ethanol industry has achieved. As we continue to improve the efficiencies of ethanol production there remains little doubt that what we are doing what we are doing better than anyone else in the world. Is there a similar industry driven by individuals more passionate about what they do than those involved in the promotion and production of ethanol? Finally, the growth of this industry over the past decade has clearly demonstrated that this is a business that can drive the economic engine of individuals, communities and rural America.

For the "good," the temptation is to follow and copy. For the "great," the passion is to lead.

The book talks about first getting the right people on the bus and then making sure that those people are in the right seats. What better example can we have for this industry than to do everything possible to make sure that the people on this bus are leaders, unifiers and builders and that they are in the right seat on the bus so they are able to maximize their contribution.

To quote Collins, "Good is the enemy of great and if you are satisfied with just success, then you are probably in the wrong line of work."